Beginners – A Retrospective on Your Season

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If you haven't already, this is a great time to look at what you’ve accomplished and to start planning for 2015.

By Mark Sortino
Coach TeamMPI

For triathletes, the season has come to an end and well-deserved rest and recovery populates most training calendars. If you haven't already, this is a great time to look at what you’ve accomplished and to start planning for 2015. I like to break down the previous year into a few categories: Training, Performance, Equipment and Enjoyment.

Training: Take a look at your training this past year and ask yourself a few questions:

  • “Did I enjoy training or was it more like a chore or job?”
  • “Did training help balance my daily and weekly life or did it add stress?”
  • If self-coached, “Could I have benefitted from a professional coach in such a way that it would enrich my emotional and physical wellbeing along with improving my performance?”
  • If injured at all, “Why did I get injured and how can I prevent that from happening again?”
  • “Could I train more or is this the most I can give weekly with my current schedule?”

Answering these questions will enable you to better plan and make good decisions for 2015.

Performance: For many beginners, there’s a certain freedom that comes with doing things for the first time (along with some anxiety as well!) Because you’re not sure what you can do, you go into every race with a sense of excitement and finish races with a sense of real accomplishment. DON’T EVER LOSE THAT! Remember that every finish line deserves recognition by you for yourself.

Now is a great time to take a look at your times, placing and how you felt in this year’s races and highlight where your strengths and weakness were in all five disciplines: swim, bike, run, transition and nutrition. In fact, I’d recommend you rank them. Additionally, assess how you did with logistics to the race and race preparation.

Equipment: Entering a new sport – especially triathlon – can be daunting due just to the amount of equipment that is required. Certainly you don’t need much to participate: a swim suit, a bike and run shoes. So reflect on this past year and think about what you may want to have or invest in to help increase your performance. With so many options out there, I recommend you prioritize and stay on a budget!

Starting with the swim, I would invest not in equipment, but in a video swim analysis by a respected triathlon swim coach. Additionally, if pool availability has prevented you from training more, look to invest in a club membership to allow access to a pool and even Masters Swim Classes.

Certainly, if you’re riding a road bike, I’d keep a triathlon specific bike on your list. If that’s out of reach financially, then look into adding clip-on aerobars to your road bike. Additionally, I would invest in getting a bike fit by a professional triathlon bike fitter. For other equipment, the cheapest item with the most bang for the buck is buying an aero helmet for races. Then, of course, is the huge advantage of race wheels. I would recommend you consult respected and experienced triathletes or coaches on this topic before you spend one dime. 

For the run, think about investing is a run-gait analysis by a respected triathlon coach. Additionally, ask yourself if you need additional clothing gear to keep you out on the road or trails during the colder winter months.

Enjoyment: This is the most important part of your review of this year. Did you enjoy training? Did you enjoy racing? Did you enjoy being a triathlete? If not, why? Is it poor training? Did you perform poorly? Are you missing the correct equipment? The secret to this wonderful sport is to enjoy every minute of it. If you’re not, then you aught to look at making some changes.

What’s ahead for 2015? Be honest with yourself and try and take the long-term view on improvement and growth. Full time athletes without children or jobs can and should expect rapid improvement. But typical age-groupers need to adjust their expectations and think of the improvement over a longer time period. Set realistic goals and challenge yourself to do better.

My number one recommendation, however, is to consider hiring a triathlon coach to join your team. He or she will be your partner on this wonderful journey and together you will discover new mountains to summit and barriers to break. Even if just for consultations, one-on-one sessions or customized training plans, it will be worth every penny.

Coach Mark Sortino is a USA Triathlon Level II Coach and National Head Coach for Team USA Paratriathlon. Mark is also co-founder and owner of Team MPI (Multisport Performance Institute) that provides a diverse spectrum of services uniquely structured for both novice and experienced multisport athletes. For more information, check out


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date: January 26, 2015


MPI services include coaching, single & multi-day tri camps, clinics, swim video analysis, tri swim programs, bike fitting & more!


MPI services include coaching, single & multi-day tri camps, clinics, swim video analysis, tri swim programs, bike fitting & more!

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